Tread a bit off the beaten path in Prospect Heights and you will find Thirstbaràvin at Classon and Pacific, a brand new natural wine bar and restaurant helmed by the husband and wife duo of Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene.
Emilia Valencia and Michael Yarmark met in California, but have been living in Brooklyn for the past 12 years. Finding it difficult to acquire in New York some of the wines they fell in love with on the west coast, they opened their retail store to share their finds.
"We opened the shop because of our passion for natural wines, traditional wines," said Yarmark.
Natural, or "slow" wines, are those made the old way, without the use of fertilizers or pesticides, and the pair says they taste nothing like today's mass-produced bottles.
"All you have to do is taste the wine to see the difference," said Valencia.
As the store grew comfortable, the couple decided to expand, settling on a bar and restaurant because of Valencia's passion for food, home cooking and the art of pairing wine with a meal.
Yarmark and Valencia settled in Prospect Heights because they say they saw a lot of creativity happening. When a friend of theirs from Thirst Wine Merchants told them about the available space on Classon Avenue, it was settled.
"We thought, if we're not going to do it now, then when?" mused Yarmark.
Thirstbaràvin had a soft opening – though more like an opening party – last week, inviting friends and family to taste the menu and sip on paired natural wines.
Since then, business has been mostly through word-of-mouth. When ProspectHeightsPatch.com stopped in, a passerby stuck his head in and asked when they were opening.
"We're open now!" said Yarmark, and the man took a business card with him.
Their wine selection varies from (whites) Leydier et Fils Vaucluse, 2009; Bregon Muscadet, 2009; and Magnon Lebegon, 2009; to (reds) Gramenon Poignee Raisins, 2009; Richaud Terre de Galets, 2008; and Barral Jadis, 2007.
The wines range from $6-7 a glass and about $40-50 per bottle. Yarmark and Valencia kept prices in mind as they made their selections.
"The prices are on the lower end of the market," said Yarmark. "The business has to be sustainable."
The dinner menu, created by chef Ginevra Iverson (of the East Village's Prune) contains starters like a Celery Root Rémoulade for $7, Raw Beet Salad for $8 and Trotter Torchon with Lentils for $10. Main course selections are Pasta al Forno for $14 and Rabbit with Bacon Mustard for $18.
They call the menu "deceptively simple," inspired less by pretense and more by scratch cooking.
"It's our homage to the natural wine bars of Paris," said Yarmark.
As an added treat, the couple has installed a Mirage espresso machine that was handmade in Holland. They serve British Columbia's 49th Parallel Roasters, which they discovered at Williamsburg's El Beit.
Currently, the bar and restaurant is open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
"We'll see how it goes, right now, those are the hours for December," said Yarmark. "We're running two businesses, we want to be here, but we also want to be there."